Monday, June 28, 2010

Touch of Evil (1958) - Orson Welles

So so so so so good. Loved this film. Love Orson Welles' work. Love this genre of film - a dark, brooding film noir (supposedly the last film noir from the classic noir era - early 40's to late 50's).

Coming in at #54 on The List, this is one film that probably should be a bit higher up than it's slot.

I wish I could say I watched this uninterrupted, curled up with a coffee in a cozy winter living room - but the truth is that it took me three days of stopping & starting to finish this fantastic film (ahh, life). I intend to one day watch it properly, that is, so that the flow of the film is not lost.

I am pressed for time at the moment and will dot point random thoughts about this wonderful piece of cinema, as opposed to a review of sorts.

A. It has to be said - why oh why is Welles such a fatty boomba in this? Hee hee. He is on a looong list of famous male celebrities who were hot in their youth, but turned into unattractive fatty boombas (Elvis, Brando, Travolta, Jack Nicholson, etc etc).

B. What's with Janet Leigh and hotel rooms? Sheesh. :)

C. The kidnapping scene of Leigh, in said hotel room, is absolutely terrifying, in a very unusual way. Well done, well done, that scene.

D. Charlton Heston is freaky looking. Spray tan a'la trying-to-be-mexican? Hmmmm...

E. Welles' performance was astounding. His giant physical form was menacing on screen. He towered over every one and every thing, it seemed. I marvel at how one can act and direct with such clarity.

F. Marlene Dietrich! WOWZA. awesome gorgeous, slightly haunting performance, in her small supporting role. Welles' captured her unique face with such divine use of light and shade.

G. A review of this film would be nothing without mention of the famous opening tracking shot- but there are, in my opinion, even more notable moments throughout the entirety of this film, in terms of brilliant filmic technique and excellent shots (lovely low angles, for instance). Welles was ahead of his time, it seemed, in making cinema. Or perhaps it is more a case of his creating a new style of cinema, pioneering new technique.

Well, that's a wrap.
I wish I could discuss this film in a more intelligent way than "I loved it" and "Orson Welles is obese", but I'm incredibly sleep deprived at present and can only muster the above.

5 out of 5 monkeys

Next up - "Mr Smith Goes to Washington"
"The Third Msn"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rubbish in the City (2)

Well, I'm halfway through 'Touch of Evil' (which IS actually on the list), but alas I am going to write a quickie here about my recent viewing of 'Sex in the City 2'.

I finally got around to taking in a 'Babes in Arms' session at the wonderful Westgarth last week. Awesome concept, which I plan to take advantage of more often, especially while baby is still immobile and will sleep in me arms.
Anyway, they were playing Sex in the City 2, which as you can imagine was quite popular amongst the mums. :)
I knew this film got absolutely panned, and was expecting it to be bad. And bad it was.
That said, it was also quite fun. Albeit, in the incredibly shallow contrived way you might expect.

Let's back up...
much to my husband's horror, I actually enjoy the tv series SITC. Infact, most of the ladies I know do - somehow, it appeals to many "types" of women, myself included. It's a guilty pleasure. It's fun, it's girlie, it's fluffy. I am not one of the women who like it for the whole fashion aspect - I honestly couldn't give a hoot about a Prada bag or a pair of Manolo Blahnik. Sure, I do mildly enjoy the fun crazy Carrie Bradshaw outfits, but that's about it.

I also completely understand why SITC (the series) would anger people. It's shallow & sometimes vapid content is questionable. And then of course there's the main reason why my hubby despises the girlie franchise - he referenced an early episode whereby Charlotte encounters an uncircumcised man, and is utterly appalled by his genitals. I haven't seen this episode in question (there's huge gaps in my SITC viewing), but apparently Charlotte provides the gentleman with an ultimatum, in that she insists he gets circumcised before the relationship continues (and/or a sexual relationship ensues).
My husband's point - and a very good one - is that if the shoe were on the other foot, and a tv series had a man asking a woman to mutilate/change her genitals, rest be assured we Chicas would be outraged. And so should we all be at this particular episode in question.

Anyway, I digress.
I am WAYYYyyy off topic.

The first SITC movie was grouse. Loved it. Well, hated hated hated the plot factor of Carrie taking back Mr.Big. But it was a lovely little film.

And they should have stopped there.

This second film was devoid of many things...plot and integrity mostly.
There were some entertaining and fun bits ('Lawrence of my Labia'...Charlotte & Miranda's candid talk about motherhood...Liza Minelli's "All the Single Ladies" cameo -wow, what legs she has for an elderly lady!).
But there was a distinct lack of substance and a potent sense of desperation to this venture #2 in film. Seriously, ladies, why did you agree to this?

Ah yes, and the answer would be - $$$$$.
As the scathing reviews of the movie state, ANY SITC movie WILL bring in generous revenue, despite any bad criticism of the film. Loyal fans and ladies worldwide love the SITC franchise, and will pay the ticket price no matter "how awful" the film is reviewed to be. Hell, I did it meself.

My biggest issue with this film? (Well, besides having to endure Sarah Jessica's Parker's drag-queen-esque face in closeup from the 5th row of a large screen theatre).
Carrie Bradshaw's heightened sense of shallowness and selfishness.
The way she treats her husband is not grounds for role-model status nor protagonist behaviour.
Big buys her an anniversary present (a plasma screen tv, installed just near the bed), which Carrie instantly rejects as awful, and whines about how "a piece of jewelery would've been nice".
Um...ingrateful bitch?
Who would have the gumption to do that?
then, to make matters worse, she whines like a big baby the entire movie, kisses another man (her ex, Aidan) while overseas, and is REWARDED upon return to her husband, who produces a giant ring for her to wear as "punsihment" for her infidelity.
I kid thee not.
Awful. Just plain awful.
As were the terribly convenient plotline of Charlotte's fear of Harry cheating on her with the nanny, which was conveniently wrapped up by the nanny being revealed as a lesbian. And the out-of-nowhere gay marriage between "the two gay best friends", who've hated each other throughout the series, but somehow found love.
Not believin it.
I could go on and on, especially in regards to the horrible shallowness of the girls' trip to the middle east, the posh princesses amongst minimum wage servants, but I won't. Because I've taken up farrrrr too much time on this film.

Friend Nellie & I were chatting about my film blog project last week (Hi Nellie!) and she encouraged me to write a scathing blog of SITC 2, so I hope this was a bit feisty.
I shall return to life outside of Miranda, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte.

P.S. This film received a whopping 16% of rotten tomatoes! SIXTEEN! that is lowwww folks, laughably bad. There were also some doozies of reviews on RTomatoes that cracked my shit uppp. Some great one liners:
"Sex and the City has turned into a bloated juggernaut of pointlessness. Its female characters are now beyond unbearable, none more so than Carrie."

"Whenever the light is just right and the angle is just plain wrong, each star gets an unflattering close-up that leaves them looking like drag-queen stand-ins."

With SATC2 we were supposed to get a peek at what's next. Instead we got a fanciful vacation and a lame and fluffy version of female power.

1.5 Monkeys / 5

Friday, June 25, 2010

'PRECIOUS' (To get back into the swing of things)

Well ,why not get the ball rolling with some review, ANY review, to perk this halted blog up.

I rented a stack of movies yesterday, all on the list except 'Precious', which I've been wanting to see since it hit theatres last year (And after the Oscars, even moreso!).

Knowing lots about the story of this film, I was deeply afraid of how difficult it would be to watch. There's a part of me that is slowly losing the ability/desire to watch such horrific depictions of things (such as abuse, in this film's case), simply because I see it as somewhat exploitative. That being sad, Precious was carefully constructed in such a brilliant way that I never, ever felt there were any gratuitous displays of violence/abuse.
Crafted artfully, in such a unique cinematic style, Lee Daniels' award-winning film truly struck a cord. He pushed the envelope with this, going to a very dark place, unafraid to show ugliness. I absolutely adore his style of filmmaking - his storytelling is quick, sharp & poignant. I like directors who don't insult their audiences by "spelling it all out". Daniel's storytelling & editing is seamless and moves forward at such a perfect pace, as if you're given a gliding-over sense of Clarice "Precious" Jones' sad sad life.
The juxtaposition between the grimy, awful life circumstances of reality - and that of Precious' numerous dreamscapes - is incredible and extremely telling in and of itself. You could watch this film without any sound and know exactly what was going on.

When he does slow down, the potency of what is being said is all the more hardhitting. Nothing illustrates this example more clearly than the climactic scene, in the social worker's office with both Mary and Precious.

Wow wow yikes yikes yikkity yikes.

So. Hard. To. Bear.
I haven't seen anything like Mo'Niques acting, particularly in this scene, in a very long time. She plays Mary Jones with such originality, and without any stock-characteristics one might be tempted to utilise when portraying a mentally-ill, incredibly abusive person.

Mo'nique is utterly deserving of the Oscar for this performance.
Her speech, in that (second to) final scene there in the social worker's office, is heartwrenching. I found myself cringing and not breathing, stuck in a state of horrified disbelief. I also felt this overwhelming sense of pity, much like that of which was plastered all over (Mariah Carey's) the social workers face.

For the first time in the film, you feel this utter sense of pity for this monster of a woman. Her babbling, rambling insane chatter makes you wonder - What. The. Fuck.
And how? HOW on earth could NOBODY in the system have noticed how sick sick sick this woman was? And taken away her very very VERY abused daughter.

When I first heard about the film 'Precious' and exactly the circumstances of Precious' life, I thought, you have to be kidding me. I thought, aren't they overdoing this piece of fiction? Emotional, sexual and physical abuse? By both parents? Illiteracy? Not one, but TWO children as a result of her father's abuse, by the mere age of 16? Being kicked out of school? Discovering an HIV positive status?
I mean, the only thing they've left out of this story of utter horror is perhaps Precious getting in an accident that paralyses her. And perhaps being brutally murdered as well.
No, but, in all honesty, the story IS insane to someone lucky like myself, because it's so horrific. But the sad fact remains that it's not "out there" and sensational - there are girls like Precious out there. Right now. Every day. Past, present and future.

And how great is it that Daniel's film was dedicated "to all the precious girls out there". I've been curious enough to look up interviews on Youtube with Gabbourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique, and they are right...this film will hopefully save somebody's life.

5 out of 5 monkeys.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm Back (I swear!)

hello hello, film loverssss.

I am back from an unexpected hiatus from this here 100 Project. I have been focused on life and baby and more life and more baby, and the project took a backseat for a bit.

Finally the other day I sort of "remembered" my blog, and oh yes, that I am in the middle of this project.
And while it will indeed ebb and flow this year, I definitely do not want it to Fizzle Out.

So this is an official verbal self-kick-in-the-butt to get back to the list...

and now to plan a trip to the (good) video store and the next up...